Summary: He only gazed, he never spoke.
Silent as the night
Saying nothing sometimes says the most.
In the cosy little coffeeshop on Diagon Alley, a petite woman strode in, her nose dusted with snow. She was covered head-to-toe in wool, with only a few chocolate curls visible through the bundles of winter clothing.
"Hello, one small espresso please," she said, her brown eyes sparkling from under her hat. In passing interest, she glanced curiously at the assortment of scones, muffins and breads behind glass cases.
The girl at the counter blinked lazily then gaped in realization, blurting out, "You're Hermione Granger aren't you?", awed.
Shrugging humbly, Hermione merely smiled. To deny it would be futile, given that her face had graced many a magazine since the tender age of fourteen - as Harry Potter's one-time 'paramour,' and then later as the brains behind the Golden Trio.
"I read all about you in Rita Skeeter's tell-all!"
The scowl slipped onto her face before she could stop it. But the girl, oblivious and chatty, continued to assault her with a barrage of questions.
"Is it true you were buck-toothed and bushy-haired, but later brewed a permanent glamour potion?"
"Did Ron Weasley truly have spattergroit or was it just a bad case of acne?"
"Do you and Gilderoy Lockhart have a secret love-child?"
Hermione stared. Over the gangly girl's shoulder, she could detect the bubbling and gloriously steamy concotion that was coffee. With a flick of her wand, she could knock this girl unconscious and just pour herself some of it ... but that would be illegal.
She could leave money behind ...
Hermione and the girl jumped in the air. A tall fair-haired man had brushed forward, slapping several coins on the counter, while sneering at the shaken girl. "Here's the money. Now could you please just get her the espresso she asked for?"
Shaking his light tousled hair, he turned to fix his grey eyes on Hermione, before giving her an imperceptible nod. Then, without another word, he simply strode out of the shop. Every single person in the shop watched in fascination as he disappeared out into the snow, his tall imposing figure shining like a flaming beacon.
"Sweet Merlin," the coffee girl breathed, her face red. "Who was that?"
Hermione pursed her lips and turned her gaze away from the door.
"Did you have to scare that poor girl?"
Hermione frowned as he smirked unashamedly, leaning back on the plush chair.
"How is the legal paperwork going?"
Draco continued lazily flicking his signature across several papers; she wondered if he even knew what he was signing away.
"I managed to get extra Ministry funding for S.P.E.W today."
"Are you always going to give one-word responses to everything?"
"Very good?" he amended.
Hermione growled in frustration. Crossing her arms, she stood in front of his desk and tapped her foot impatiently. Without raising his head, he merely lifted his eyebrows questioningly.
"Surely you have some things you want to say, or ask?"
"Did you get the Marriage Law repealed?"
Her breath was stolen. She'd expected some inane conversation or a biting insult at worst, but not this.
"No," she admitted quietly.
"Not yet?" he asked, with a hint of derision in his voice. She had, after all, proclaimed haughtily on their wedding day that she would get rid of the absurd law within no time. So far ... no luck. She hadn't even tried in the past month. She was just busy...
Hermione was quiet after that. He had effectively silenced her, having already mastered that extraordinary feat a long time ago.
Their conversations, if they could even be called that, always devolved into this - silence. It was perhaps the only way to live in harmony. Sighing in defeat, she fled the immense length of the Malfoy library, moving silently past the noble and pale portraits of his ancestors, ignoring their low-uttered whispers of mudblood and filth.
She didn't thank him for paying for her coffee ... never did they utter such platitudes to each other.
But as the door closed behind her, Draco looked up to see a warm butter scone sitting on his desk.
I can't sleep without you.
She wondered if he could hear her thoughts. They did appear in her mind often enough to tip off anyone with half-decent Legilimency skills as to what preoccupied her when she writhed in insomnia.
"Waiting for me?"
Stiffening, she closed her eyes as his breath tickled across her face. She knew he only said such things to grate at her, to get a rise out of her, yet she couldn't help but think that he was flirting in his own twisted way.
My, how needy she was.
"You know I need to get pregnant," she said dryly.
"Not if you could get the law repealed," he taunted, the whisper of his clothing being removed echoing in her ears like an ominous gong.
"No," she agreed.
His lips passed over her forehead, grazing down to her eyes, before sloping down her cheeks. Finally they touched her lips, and the traitorous skin parted for him with ease. One hand slid up her naked thigh, dancing up until she was shivering all over.
It was the same, every night.
His lips and fingers always trailed the same path. She should have laughed, or scoffed, at his unimaginative lovemaking. It was rather like a checklist: first face, then thighs, and further ... but she couldn't. Even though he seemed to methodically undress her, it was her heart that unraveled under him.
If all he ever did was simply look at her, she would still burn alive.
So she could never deride him .... shuddering as he stroked within her, coaxing her higher and higher. He groaned in her ears in guttural release, moving his hands one last time over her skin, still quivering from her own release, before withdrawing and retreating to his side of the bed.
... because no matter how much, or how little he did, she would always want him and only him.
But she was nothing more than the mud sullying his name.
"Hello, can I have ..."
"One espresso to go!" the girl smiled, placing a warm simmering cup in front of Hermione's surprised face. Was this really the same girl who was working the day before? she wondered, eyeing the cup dubiously.
"How did you -"
" - know you'd come back?" she grinned. "Your husband said so when he came in here earlier. I've to tell you: you've got great taste. He's quite a looker!" she gushed.
Hermione blinked. "My ... husband?"
The girl nodded, still starry-eyed. "He told me to have a cup ready to go at 8 am every day, because you're a coffee addict."
Cradling the cup in her cold hands, Hermione looked at her feet. "Oh." Unsurprisingly, the coffee girl continued blathering on, not noticing the scarlet stain on Hermione's cheeks. Fumbling through her purse, and shaking her head at her clumsiness, she withdrew her wallet.
"Oh no - your husband paid already." The girl waved off the proffered money.
"He did?" she cried out, utterly baffled.
"Yeah, he actually paid enough for the entire year," smiling, "handsome and rich! I wish I was half as lucky."
Hermione didn't believe in luck - only perseverance. It was what led her to where she was, what drove her day after day. Perhaps Harry had been chosen for greatness by some magical twist of fate, but she - she was chosen because she made it happen.
"The programs we've set up would allow house-elves to seek medical aid and a refuge from abusive owners," she explained.
The Head of the Department, a portly old man listened respectfully to each of her clearly articulated points. At the conclusion, he shook her hand briskly, smiling indulgently at her delighted expression.
"I'm very grateful you've decided to fund my project. This cause is very important to me."
He nodded, but then frowned. "To be honest, Mrs. Malfoy, many of my colleages were dubious about this. A lot of Ministry funding comes from conservative pureblood families, who employ the most house-elves."
Her glee tapered off into a frown.
"Even among the more liberal-minded wizards, most are reluctant to part way with their money for these creatures." He shook his head, sighing.
"Oh," she said dejectedly. "Then why did you agree ...?"
"Well, my dear, all that was before your husband came into argue your case to us."
Her mind froze, shut down, before it restarted again.
"Mr. Malfoy, as you well know, is an esteemed pureblood. His opinion holds much sway over these traditional types. When the Marriage Law was passed, all these purebloods were in a furor. He calmed them down and persuaded them against repealing it.
Hermione's mouth opened and closed.
"Now, he's also managed to assuage many of their fears about house-elf rights, making it easier for me to rally behind you."
"Oh," she muttered weakly.
"The rest, as you know, is history."
But she didn't. She didn't see at all.
"Hello," her voice echoed in the vast chambers. "Draco?"
There was silence. That was not unusual, even if he was at home.
"Idiot, prat, wanker," she muttered. "He doesn't talk to me, but he does with everyone else apparently."
There was a soft rustling behind her. "My word, the lady of this house does not use such undignified language - particularly when referring to her lord and husband."
She glared at the portrait of Draco's great-uncle. "Lord and husband, my arse!"
"You little ..."
She stormed off to the bedroom, grumpily stripping off her cloak and searching for some loungewear, wishing her husband hadn't replaced all her cottons and polyesters with silks and laces.
Her hand brushed on something hard, in between his neatly folded trousers. Extracting it with wide eyes, she looked down at a glass vial of ... contraceptive potion. Breathing heavily in recognition, she gazed at it, struck speechless.
For several months, though they had come together every night ....
She had never fallen pregnant.
Draco paused, swiveling around on the spot to see his wife glaring at him in unbridled fury. Setting aside the files, he mutely waited for her to proceed.
If anything, his air of affected politeness incensed her even more. "You really thought I wouldn't find out about this?"
The vial was thrust into his hands. His mouth opened, and she waited with bated breath for him to say something - anything. But he didn't. Silence, it returned again; it was like a third invisible member of their marriage.
He merely put it down and smiled at her wryly.
"Well what do you have to say?" she demanded.
"... you got me?"
"Stop simpering. You've been running around, acting so -"
"So what -?"
He smirked at her flustered words. She jabbed a finger into his chest.
"You bought me coffee, for the entire year! You hate house-elves, and S.P.E.W, but you went and argued - something that requires time and energy - for me."
She stared at him, livid. He wasn't even denying it!
"I know that you prevented ex-Death Eaters from repealing the Marriage Law, and you've been," she spluttered over the word, "me every night under the guise of getting me pregnant, despite still taking the contraceptive potion! It's like you ..." It was too crazy to say.
His long fingers lazily drew on his desk, his gaze averted. She was dismayed to find hysterical sobs coughing up involuntarily from her throat. Hearing this, he looked up and stared at her.
"Why did you do all this?" she cried.
He reached to pluck her hand from her side, and fingered her wedding ring. "You already know ... why ask?"
Kissing each knuckle reverently, he raised his blond head, his lips hovering over hers.
"But why don't you ever say anything?"
"Because I like listening to you," he said simply.
Softly, he sipped at her tears.
"Because no matter how many times I tell you, you'll only believe what your eyes see. You're stubborn that way."
She glanced up, searching his angular face - finding something she'd never noticed before: affection.
Lifting her up onto the wooden desk, he urged her to wrap her arms around his neck while he lightly touched her waist. One by one, each cloth and fabric was discarded until there was nothing between them.
He only gazed, he never spoke.
Not once did he say the words, nor did he romance her with other grand declarations. But she could hear them with every kiss and stroke. She knew now why his touch affected her so - it was because he was not in fact methodical, nor was he unimaginative.
When he trailed from her forehead to her toes, he wasn't checking off a list; he was worshipping her.
For so long, she had thought him silent as the night. As cruel and cold as the darkness. Maybe ...
"Stop thinking. I'm trying to seduce you," he whispered.
She huffed. "For someone who never talks, sometimes you never shut up." He pinched her hip. "Ow, sadist!"
He silenced her, in their favorite way, and the only sounds left were soft and primeval.
... maybe, she just hadn't heard what was so obvious in his actions.